How BCAA’s Will Help You Grow Stronger
We’re all looking for a little boost to our workout routine. Whether it's a new style of training, or a new device that will help you isolate muscles more effectively - making gains is what we step foot into the gym for every day.
Here's the thing, if you are lacking nutrients in your diet, especially nutrients that allow your muscles to thrive - you could be training without seeing real results.
We all know that protein consumption has been shown to help accelerate recovery, and improve strength after long training session - but why?
Each protein you eat is eventually metabolised into Branched Chain Amino Acids - these become the building blocks of muscle and recovery.
Improving your performance in the gym, and ensuring results and recovery is as simple as understanding which amino acids will work best for your training and nutrition program.
Let's take a deeper look into how BCAA’s can be your saviour in making long-standing muscular adaptations.
What are BCAA’s?
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids.
They form the building blocks of protein, and therefore can be found in any source of protein - including protein shakes, meats, beans, vegetables and many other foods.
Since BCAA’s are a metabolised form of protein they will not provide energy to the muscles, but instead, will help the body to recover, balance hormones and even induce sleep.
There are a host of BCAA’s, split into two different types - Essential and Non-Essential (we will talk more about this later), each serving specific purposes in the body. For example, L-Theanine is an amino acid that has been shown to help promote a deeper sleep, relaxing the muscles and allowing for longer periods of rest.
Other amino acids, such as L-Leucine are closely correlated to advancements in anabolic strength. L-Leucine has been shown time and time again to be a very powerful precursor to muscle protein synthesis - a process that enables for muscles to recover faster. This is why most, if not all BCAA formulas primary ingredient will be L-Leucine.
BCAA’s are the building blocks of protein. They serve as the balance point for internal system such as muscle recovery, sleep, hormone secretion to work properly. A lack of BCAA’s can have a host of issues - especially if they are essential amino acids.
Different Types of BCAA’s
There are several types of amino acids that serve many different functions in the body.
All amino acids are broken down into two types - essential and non-essential.
Essential amino acids are amino acids that are not created by the body - therefore we need to consume them on a daily basis in order to adequately balance levels and promote strength and recovery.
Essential Amino acids Include:
Non-essential amino acids are created by the body. Although non-essential amino acids are not as important to consume on a daily basis, many of the foods we eat will contain non-essential amino acids and monitoring levels is still important to our success in the gym and daily life.
Non-essential amino acids include:
Although this may seem to be a long list of amino acids for you to keep track of, there are a select few that are important to our goals of building muscle and optimizing body composition.
It is a dietary amino acid with the capacity to directly stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Pretty amazing for such a small amino acid. Leucine should be included in any and all training programs - especially if the goal is to build muscle.
There has even been research showing that when leucine is not present, the process of repairing tissue slows and is not as efficient.
You definitely want to include at least 3-5g/leucine daily.
Glutamic Acid (Glutamine)
One supplement many people have heard of. Glutamine works to increase the bodies ability to work through stressful endurance sessions. In addition to benefits to endurance training, Glutamine works best to preserve muscle tissue - making it one of the best supplements to take when you are cutting (in a caloric deficit).
Glutamine makes up the majority of amino acids found in the bloodstream - about 30-35 percent of the amino acid nitrogen in your blood.
Supplementing with L-glutamine can be one of the most effective ways to ensure your body is meeting its amino acid requirements.
Benefits of Glutamine
- Decreases muscle wasting
- Promotes muscle growth
- Improves gastrointestinal health
- Can help assist with memory and concentration
- Helps to balance blood sugar
- Helps fight effects of DOMS
Perhaps one of the most overlooked supplements in the fitness industry. Research on Beta-Alanine is now catching up to sport physiology.
Supplementing Beta-Alanine works to delay the onset of lactic acid - that’s the fatigue you feel late in sets or the stiffening of your legs while running.
Supplementing Beta-Alanine can help buffer the lactic acid - helping you to train for longer without losing power or focus.
Another overlooked supplement in many athletes training plan. An increase in L-Arginine has been shown to vasodilate (open up the veins) and allow for greater blood flow.
In a workout situation this is perfect as blood pooling will only lead to a buildup of lactic acid and eventually soreness and fatigue.
Optimally transporting blood throughout the body means you can transport more nutrients and oxygen rich blood to working muscle.
PRO TIP: Combine Arginine with D-aspartic Acid - a powerful anabolic amino acid that has been shown to increase free-testosterone levels.
These two work together to create some of the best pumps and strength you will ever have during a training session.
Although not directly on our list of amino acids, theanine is a amino acid that works to relax the muscles and other soft tissue.
Research is now being conducted on theanine to see if it can help stimulate mood, and help fight depression and anxiety. You can supplement L-Theanine to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day - especially prior to sleep as L-Theanine is a proven supplement to assist with sleep.
PRO TIP: Stack your theanine supplementation with a ZMA complex in order to maximally boost and regulate testosterone levels while you sleep.
BCAA Dosage and Usage
Each amino acid has a respective amount that has been clinically shown to induce some type of muscular result.
Most, if not all weightlifters will benefit from the following dosages.
Amino acids work in many different ways - yet most will work to assist in development of lean muscle tissue. Although the dosage is variable between amino acids. your best bet may be to pickup a blend of amino acids and supplement them before and during a workout.
Depending on if your BCAA also contains stimulants (such as caffeine) you can take the BCAA anytime in order to balance levels and increase recovery.
What's the Best Time to Take BCAA?
The morning and intra-workout. When you wake up, your body has been in a fasting, starving for upwards of 6 hours - it needs nutrients to fight muscle breakdown.
We would recommend taking a protein shake each night before you sleep - the inclusion of L-Theanine may help you to have a deeper sleep and a better rest. The increased protein will stimulate recover while you sleep (when testosterone levels are peaked) and then supplement with a BCAA first thing in the morning to hydrate muscles and fight muscular breakdown.
Summary and Conclusion
Branched chain amino acids can be a very effective tool for improving your overall body composition and enabling for muscle growth - when supplemented correctly.
Understand that your body creates more than half the amino acids necessary to growth, and the other half you should be obtaining from a balanced diet - amino acids supplementation should be your way of ensuring optimal recovery.
Supplementing will ensure you have a regulated amount of a specific amino acid. Depending on your goal you may want to increase the amount of Leucine - to be highly anabolic during overload weeks, or increase the amount of glutamine - to delay muscle breakdown during a cut.
BCAA’s have a host of benefits and have a proven track record for success. Supplementing with a BCAA formula is not only lower in calories than a protein shake, but they also metabolize much faster - going to work at repairing soft tissue and ensuring your growth and development as an athlete.
If you are looking for great supplements to help boost performance in the gym, increase vitality in the bedroom or even increase sleep look no further than amino acids.